Sunday, January 30, 2011

Back to Eden Bakery Yumminess

I don't really have a ton to say here that isn't conveyed just as well by how yummy these pictures look. We finally got ourselves over to Alberta St. to check out the Back to Eden Bakery Boutique yumminess. It's a good thing it's not closer to where we live because everything in their case looked pretty fantastic. (I'm feeling pretty well situated in relation to all the vegan yumminess in Portland. Most of it takes some walking at least, and VooDoo Doughnut almost always has that huge line.) 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie
I had the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie. OMG.

Chocolate Toffee Bar
Chuck had the Chocolate Peanut Toffee Bar. He was happy. I had a bite too, but to be honest I was very distracted by my Whoopie Pie. I think it had a pretty tasty combo of flavors (I'm sure it did, actually) but, yeah, it's all about the whoopie pie.

The space was really cute inside too, lots of vegan cookbooks and fun products. But there were no seats free because it was a very small, popular space. I suppose that makes the Boutique part of the name sound pretty appropriate. We ended up heading over to a bus stop since it wasn't that cold out and the bus had just gone by & no one else was waiting. We did some people (and people with dogs) watching while we enjoyed our treats. We did end up having to wave a bus pass once...but I felt comfortable with that, it's Portland, you know, we're laid back here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Portlandia Episode Two

Episode two featured Mayor Sam Adams, although Kyle MacLachlan was actually playing the mayor in this episode. Mayor Sam was popping his head in to provide technical assistance. The Mayor was concerned with making sure Portland did not seem anything like Seattle. It got me thinking, they really are quite different, in spite of all the Pacific Northwest similarities. Unfortunately that particular clip doesn't seem to be available online, however I thought I might as well post the two clips from this week's episode that are available.

More of the feminist bookstore! I love that these were actually filmed at a Feminist bookstore here in Portland, In Other Words, the last volunteer, non-profit feminist bookstore in the U.S. I was also excited about a post on Portlandia's facebook page with a statement from the store director insisting "feminists DO have a sense of humor." This clip also feature Aubrey Plaza, from Parks & Recreation:

The other clip from this week's episode expands on the line from the Dream of the 90s song "In Portland you can just put a bird on something and call it art!" I put off watching this one until the episode aired, so I knew I'd have something to look forward to. It makes me laugh, but I actually really do like things with birds on them a lot! I agree with Carrie's character here, I didn't even see that tote bag until it had a bird on it, and now I think I'd like to get myself one. It's much cuter. They also set up a website for adding birds to other websites:

It's only a six episode season, which means only 4 more episodes!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Portland Walk: Mt. Tabor Park & Hawthorne Blvd.

City Reservoir City Reservoir

After meeting up with some friends for a brunch at SlappyCakes last weekend we did some exploring. We headed toward Hawthorne Blvd. Once we got there rather than just head home, we went east and ended up in Mt. Tabor Park. Apparently Mt. Tabor is a "volcanic cinder cone." (It's dormant, don't worry.) It also has city reservoirs, we were walking next to #5 & #6. (We saw #3 and #4 on our walk in Washington Park, on the west/downtown side of the Willamette River.)

Reservoir #1 is also at the top of Mt. tabor, but since it wasn't the clearest day we didn't quite make it up there. (We climbed about as many stairs as I could handle on a recently filled belly full of pancakes.) I'm sure we will go back for the views, but last weekend was still a very pretty misty/foggy day. I thought the design of the reservoir structures looked right at home on a day like that one. 

Hawthorne sort of bends and then stops and starts again at each side of the park, and this picture was taken right at the end of Hawthorne, before it bends. I'd like to take this picture again on a clear day, you can start to make out downtown buildings and the hills beyond in this one.

We also stopped in a really nice coffee shop near here, Albina Press. I so missed pacific northwest coffee shops while we lived in Chicago. So much space to hang out, art on the walls, good reasonably priced coffee, and of course the pacific northwest weather that goes so well with coffee. They are also a great place to discover music, I've found, and I used shazam on my phone to find out we were listening to Sleepy Sun, a band from San Francisco. Later at home I found a nice live video.

Train from the north Hawthorne
I considered stopping in one of the two yarn shops we passed on Hawthorne, Yarn Garden and Happy Knits, but I didn't really have any relevant excuse this week. (Even so it's hard to resist.) Instead we just enjoyed our walk, Hawthorne is an active street for most of the length we walked. We got stopped by a train with several cars from Canada before we could climb some stairs and get on the bridge to get home. It was really really loud, but kind of neat. I saw a few open boxcars we could've tried to jump into if we were so inclined. 

Also noted some interesting construction work going on downtown at 2nd and Jefferson, where they have ripped off a portion of the side of this building.:
Construction Construction
I mapped our route once we got home and found out it was 6.66 miles. Now I'm not really superstitious, but I thought that was a little weird. If I had known, perhaps we could've walked around the block once to add a .01. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Whisper Cardigan: Part One

Whisper Part 1

This is what I am going to consider part one of the three part anatomy of the Whisper Cardigan by Hannah Fettig from Interweave Knits Spring 2009. (The same issue with the diminishing rib cardigan I made last year.) There's an explanation of the construction with a nice schematic sketch here. Basically part one is the sleeves and back, part two will be picking up stitches all around this piece for a ribbed band, and part three will be picking up stitches at the bottom part of that band for a bottom/back section. It's a simple but clever construction that keeps me from having to do seaming. I'm not crazy about picking up stitches, but I prefer it over seaming work, and it's not so bad with certain knit fabrics. For something like this I think should be able to enjoy it. Meanwhile my knit dress is still on hold just because I have to pick up some stitches for a collar! Maybe getting a start on part two of this cardigan will help me feel prepared to tackle picking up stitches for that project.

Whisper Part 1 Whisper Part 1

The picture on the left above shows the stitches on a holder and a provisional cast on that I did rather than binding off just to pick up those stitches later. This pattern currently has 1859 projects on ravelry, and I saw that at least a few people were doing that as well, and it seemed like a good idea.

The picture above on the right shows the faux seam, which I wasn't sure I would do until it was done. I didn't really like the idea of having something that looked like a seam but was actually decreases & increases and pretty much decorative.This is surely because of so much architecture school, honesty in structure and all that. But in the end I did it thinking it'd be handy for comparing length of each side, to make sure my sleeves came out even. Plus it's a knitting project, not a building, so it also provided an interesting break from the stockinette stitch.

The Yarn is Suhrim Trading Co. Ltd.'s Muse, a yarn I picked up at Loopy Yarns in Chicago, but I believe I also saw it here in Portland at Yarn Garden. I really like this stuff in theory, but I've tried to use it a few other times on projects that never really took off. A nice lightweight, lace/2 ply vegan yarn is a little hard to find. And on top of that I'm completely won over by the sparkles. It's a Linen/Rayon/Metallic Blend. I have tried to use it in the past, but have yet to have as much success with it as I am having so far with this project. I got spot on gauge! I have a start on another sweater in the same yarn in orange still stashed away; hopefully this project will get me back into the idea of working with it again.

This project actually reminds me of a few other projects I've had in the queue before: Tubey from Knitty and the Evening Shrug from Purl Bee which have both been around for longer than the Whisper Cardigan, but somehow this was the one I got around to making first. I think I like this shrug-style construction!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Portlandia: Did you watch it?

The first episode of Portlandia premiered last night on IFC. Did you read watch it? I find it pretty interesting to watch anything filmed in a city I'm reasonably familiar with, but the fact that this is a comedy show all about life in Portland makes it extra special. I've already watched the clips countless times, especially the Dream of the 90s song. It seems as incredibly appropriate song to start off the 6 show season. It strikes me to be a return to the kind of comedy shows I remember from the 90s like The State and Kids in the Hall. Maybe that has a little something to do with the fact that Fred Armisen is frequently in drag.

Anyway, the first episode was on Hulu for about a week, but last I checked it was no longer available there. The show actually aired last night on IFC, but since we don't have cable or a TV (we watch on the internet, like so many people do these days) chances are we will be venturing out to the Mission Theater to catch episodes in the future.

For additional viewing I understand this: was a precursor to Portlandia.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Portland Walk: Lair Hill Neighborhood

OHSU Aerial Tram Matching Pair
Earlier this week we took a walk through the Lair Hill neighborhood. It sits below the Aerial tram (which we have yet to take) up to the OSHU Health Center. The bottom of the tram begins in the recently developed South Portland area. We did some walking through that area a few months ago, blogged about it here. Our walk this week took us to the edge of the neighborhood, with a nice overlook on that area.

 Chicken Coop Chickens!
Chicken coops are allowed in Portland but we live downtown so it's not something I'm used to seeing everyday.This coop had five chickens and was a pretty nice size. Black and golden, and fairly interested in me as I taking pictures. Maybe it was close to feeding time?

Moss everywhere Under the bridge
So Portland-y: Moss & Graffiti. As the leaves were falling off the trees this year, we've noticed little lumps of moss are falling too. There hasn't been much snow yet this year, but there are little balls of moss all over the ground. The garage door on the left gives you some idea just how much the moss takes over here. The tunnel is from a pedestrian underpass that was a little wet and dark, fortunately it was not a very long tunnel. And it made for a very Portland looking shot of Chuck.

Lair Condos Green House
Most of the homes in the neighborhood looked historic, but we did pass this modern condo building near the end of our walk, the Lair Hill Condos designed by Rick Potestio. There's a post about the project on the Portland Architecture blog.  On the right is an historic 1890 building known as the Corkish Apartments. My googling to figure that out lead to learning that there was recently a fire at the landmark, which might explain why we saw evidence of some work going on.

Large Books
We walked back through the city, past some of the PSU buildings. I've walked past this one several times, but I don't think I've stopped to take pictures before. These are some large books! And I also can't help but wonder how they decided which books to use. It's bright and colorful, and makes me want to go home and read.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Knitting of 2011: Lavalette Shawl

My first knitting project of the year is a triangular shawl. The pattern was the Lavalette Shawl by Kirsten Kapur. I haven't made one of these triangular shawls yet, somehow. Okay, I admit, for a long time I thought of it as one of those kinda weird thing that knitters like to make that looked like a bandanna. But I've come completely around. I'm a little tired of rectangles, and  I've done a lot of people watching. I've noticed people wearing (knit or not) things that kind of looked like triangular shawls and noticed that they can look quite cute and useful. Now that I've finished one I don't think I would mind having several more, and there are a lot of cute patterns out there...

Lavalette Shawl Lavalette Shawl

The Yarn: I grabbed some very cheap & on sale yarn at Joann's a few weeks back. At $2.50 a ball with no sales tax in Oregon? Worth it just to play around! It's Deborah Norville's Serenity Garden in Hibiscus, which is "100% Dralon Microfiber." There are two things I don't know in that last sentence, who the heck is the lady staring at me from the yarn labels and what the heck is meant by Dralon microfiber.  Regardless, I enjoyed working with the yarn, which I was doing on US size 7 needles. The recommended needle size is US 3-5, and I found that the larger size made the fabric feel light and drapey. It reminded me just a little of working with bamboo yarn, which is soft and a little slippery, although obviously, not as luxurious as bamboo.

First a Sock Attempt: I actually attempted to work on a pair of socks and got a pattern repeat or so through the cuff before deciding the project was a little too frustrating and not enough fun with the tools I had. US Size 1.5 needles in wood. I've broken too many wood needles this size and smaller. I guess that's not a hugely common problem, but for me it either comes from checking my progress by trying socks on too many times, attempting tricky patterns that end up making me bend the wood til it snaps, or the fact that my hands are a little sweaty from time to time, wearing down the strength of the wood. I have some other theories about that too, but none of these things are habits I plan on changing. So, I decided with that attempt that I was going to officially give up trying to use wood needles below size 3 or so. So no more socks for me for a bit until I get myself some metal needles. I suspect this will lead to a mad hunt for metal needles in the near future because of an overwhelming desire to make some more socks, but so far so good.

About the Yarn Color: I wasn't sure if I was going to like this yarn in the end. It was a little splitty and difficult for the sock pattern, but I have gotten kind of used to yarn that's a little splitty, so that didn't bother me much especially with the larger needles. I'm also usually skeptical of any variegation or striping yarns. With one solid color, I know what that's going to do in a pattern: be solid! So throughout this project I was trying to decided if I was going to like the diminishing stripe effect. Now that it's done, I do think it's nice:

Lavalette Shawl

The other day I took the shawl out for a stroll. I found more reasons to like the triangular shape, it tucks right into the front of your jacket so nicely. Or, as used by bandits, is very easy to pull over your face if your face gets cold. Or you could just flip it around and show it off, as I've done here; for a knitter, that's pretty satisfying thing to do. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Books I read in 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsThe Sixteen PleasuresFugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, OregonThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)Loving FrankZeitoun
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Building Systems 2009
Construction Documents & Services 2009
Pride and Prejudice
Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
Living Dead in Dallas

Emma Nolan's favorite books »

Just to round things out this is my last 2010 recap. (see photos, knitting and music here and here.) These are the books I managed to read last year, amidst studying for my exams (note the inclusion of two of my awesome study guides here, grumble), moving, etc. The handy widget generated by, which includes the Harry Potter book I finally read and finished last night. It technically shouldn't be a part of this list, but I couldn't figure out a way to exclude it from the widget. Anyway, I've committed myself to doing even better this year by reading at least 25 books! My favorite by far last year was Zeitoun and I enjoyed re-reading Pride & Prejudice, which I am pretty sure I read in high school, but I guess I am old enough now not to quite remember things like that!

Party Down Poster
Also I should mention our TV favorites. We didn't do a lot of movie watching this year, and most of that was older stuff on Netflix trying to catch up as I suspect will be the case next year. But there was quite a bit of good TV in 2010. My favorites being Boardwalk Empire (yay two golden globes last night!) and Treme (No golden globe nominations even!?! I'm annoyed but not surprised...) Two cancelled shows (both currently available streaming on Netflix): Party Down and Better Off Ted. And 2010 will go down in memory as the year that Chuck admitted that Glee was an entertaining show. He was going to have to watch it with I'm glad he's finally enjoying it too.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What I listened to in 2010, Part Two: Old


Lhasa (also known as Lhasa de Sela) - The Living Road (from 2003) Website
I started out last year re-listening album because of the unfortunate news that Lhasa died of breast cancer on New Years day last year. It's a fantastic album, one my Aunt initially loaned me a copy of, and I never get tired of it. I wish I had managed to see her sold out show at the Triple Door when we lived in Seattle, but I didn't manage to get tickets. It was really sad to hear of her passing.

Au Revoir Simone - The Bird of Music (from 2007) Website*
*be warned their website does start to play music without prompting.
I also wanted to mention this album because I was asked to pick out music for the wedding in SC this fall. So for some time, I was happily listening to any and everything in our collection with any hint of being appropriate. I mentioned that the first track from this album, "The Lucky One" would be cute processional song, but not really knowing if Matt & Janie had a plan for something else; I wasn't expecting them to agree to it. They really loved it, and it worked out perfectly for the big day. Now that I'm posting this I'm noticing that the cover even looks like the setting from the lake, even more reason this album is probably going to me get a little teary-eyed from here on out!

The rest of this post focuses on "old" artists that released new albums this year. I suspect that this means that I won't be able to find as many links to streaming audio for this post, since these artists are already established, but I'll try.

Belle and Sebastian - Write about Love Website Stream Album
Antony and the Johnsons - Swanlights Website Appearance on WNYC's Soundcheck
These both came out fairly recently, in the fall, so I'm still getting into them, but on the whole I think I'm enjoying these both more than I thought I would. Belle & Sebastian have consistent sound that I like, so I was expecting it to be pretty good, but I think I'm into this album a little more than I am usually into their music. I am Antony and the Johnsons fan of our household, it's not really Chuck's type of thing. He does have an unusual voice and it's probably not for everyone. This album features a duet with Bjork, perhaps returning the favor for Antony's appearance on her 2007 album, Volta. It's the 8th release from Belle & Sebastian, the 4th for Antony and the Johnsons.

The Gossip - Music for Men (rel. 2009) Stream
Thank goodness for Beth Ditto of the Gossip. She's so awesome. This release is from 2009, but I was still listening to it all year this year. Heck I'm still listening to all their other albums too. Just thinking of the video for Long Distance Love makes me want to be at a roller rink right now.

Stereo Total - Baby Ouh! Website
The cover might give you some idea of the feel of this album. 2007's Paris-Berlin remains my favorite album from them, but the fact there is a song about Andy Warhol fits so well with their overall aesthetic, and as usual it features many blips and beeps that get stuck in my head well after listening.

LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening Website
M.I.A. - /\/\/\Y/\ Website*
*yes, this one autoplays too. You also get to watch a video of the track "born free"
This is the third release from both of these artists, and I'm noticing they've been releasing their albums on the same schedule, 2005, 2007 and 2010. That might make some sense, we saw them together at the Showbox in Seattle in 2005. If you've been a fan of MIA on twitter of facebook, it's been an interesting year.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - I Learned the Hard Way Website*
*auto-plays music. Their christmas track "ain't no chimneys in the projects" actually
I first heard Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings from Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW, and this is their 4th release. Sharon Jones once worked as a corrections officer at Rikers Island, but now she's making great Funk/Soul music with the fabulous Dap Kings (who were featured on Amy Winehouse's Back to Black.) Their music is consistently great.

She & Him - Volume Two Website (player in upper left)
Zooey is pretty cute. We got to see these two live together at the Pritzker Pavillion this year and they had a great chemistry on stage. Sure M. Ward wore his sunglasses the whole time, but he looked very cool doing it. For some reason I still feel partial to Volume One (maybe it was the cover of "You've Really Got a Hold On Me") but Volume Two is growing on me, and I usually get more excited about songs after seeing them performed live.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I listened to in 2010, Part One: New

I usually spend the first few weeks of the new year every year toying with the idea of doing a post about the music of the last year. And I usually end up giving it up because I start to realize some of my favorite albums that I listened to over the year were actually, technically, from the year before and that all these end of the year lists (on sites like emusic and Pitchfork) have a bunch of stuff on them that I haven't had a chance to listen to yet. But this year I'm thinking Why not? I'll just post about some of my favorites from my listening this year regardless of their actual release dates. Part One focuses on artists that were pretty much new to me this year, in no particular order. I tried to find links to online streams of the full album where I could, though I don't know how long those will be available, so listen soon! If I couldn't find that I have a link to the band's site instead where you should at least be able to find some samples of their music.

Breathe Owl Breathe - Magic Central  Stream Here
Last time I saw my aunt she was talking about enjoying Breathe Owl Breathe live, and mentioned their campaign over on kickstarter. We have their EP Ghost Glacier, so I wasn't entirely unfamiliar with them, but I really got into them with this album. It appeals to me for the same reasons I am a big fan of Bill Callahan/Smog.

Karaocake - Rows & Stitches Stream Here
I was convinced by an interview on e-music, the cover art and the title, seemingly very crafty-ish.  Also helpful was the suggestion that they were similar to Au Revoir Simone and the fact that they are from Paris, France.

Blue Giant - Blue Giant Stream Here
When I heard Portland locals Kevin Robinson and Anita Robinson of Viva Voce had a new project, right around the time we moved here, I looked into to it as soon as I could! We saw those two live at least twice when we lived in Seattle and just like their music, they are a lot of fun.

Lykke Li - Youth Novels Website (there is a pop out audio player on the upper right)
I take it this actually came out all the way back in 2008, but I only got around to listening to it last year. Well...I don't have all that long to wait then for the next album from her, which should be coming out this March.


The xx - xx Website (a player at the bottom of the page)
I'm actually not sure there was anything in particular that prompted me to make this one of my emusic downloads other than the fact that it was showing up high in their charts and I liked the previews. It's one of my favorites now though, though technically released in 2009. I guess they won the Mercury prize this year, which as I recall Antony & the Johnsons won right around when I was first hearing their music.

Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here Stream Here
The title comes from a cover of on of Bill Callahan/Smog's songs...and even though the original is also very close to spoken word, something about Heron's presentation makes me think about the meaning differently. But even excluding that track, this album from the Chicago poet/musician is definitely worth several listens.


The Mynabirds - What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood 
Website (the music section has a few tracks & videos)

Karen Elson - The Ghost Who Walks Stream Here
These two albums are a little similar in my mind, perhaps a slight vintage feel. On Karen Elson's Album you get the distinct Jack White sound since she's his wife. She does draw in some cabaret influences (she had a cabaret group in NYC) and was much better than I expected. 

Veviter - Tight Knit Stream Here
This is from 2009, but we listened to it a lot early this year. We saw Devandra Banhart for my birthday in 2009 and a few of the songs from this album were performed at that show. And again with the crafty title. I think it got a few extra listens just for that. No, it's a good album, and I like it more because that show was a particularly good one.

Jenny and Johnny - I'm Having Fun Now Website (see LISTEN in the upper left)
I was looking forward to this because I really like Jenny Lewis, but I'm not quite as crazy about it as I hoped I would be. It's alright, but can't help but wishing for more Jenny and less Johnny every time we listen to it.

Janelle Monáe - The ArchAndroid Stream Here
I've read about some shows she did in Chicago this year, and I heard she's great live, I would like to see here. As I recall there was a comparison of her performance to Grace Jones, David Bowie and a few other really great people. Every photo I see of Janeele Monáe, her style clothing, hair, etc. is just so cool. I'm still enamoured of everything about the video for Tightrope, love the dance moves. But I also really love the fact that her tuxedo pants and black and white shoes remind me of some clothing I had as a kid.

The Living Sisters - Love to Live Website on facebook (a few tracks, scroll down, see left)
3 musicians I already liked: Inara George of The Bird & The Bee, Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and singer Eleni Mandell sing harmony on this album. I have to admit I haven't actually given the album itself a listen yet, but I was quite charmed by their performance on Morning Becomes Eclectic (a program from L.A.'s KCRW which I've been listening to online while I work since 2002.) and I've given it a few listens.

Tomorrow I was planning on posting about some the albums that came out in 2010 from artists I already knew and like quite a bit, but I don't think it will be quite as extensive as this post was! Whew!